THE EXPOSITORY SERMON – ITS EFFECTS
Once the sermon is prepared and preached it still has not completed its work. Hebrews 4:12 states that, “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow,and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Such a powerful reaction can be expected to accompany the preaching of an expository sermon because it has allowed God to speak to His creatures. To be sure, wherever the Word is preached, there will follow certain effects.
It Glorifies God
In 2 Corinthians 4:5 Paul put preaching into perspective when he stated, “we to not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.” Preaching is not finally about the preacher’s skill or ability to powerfully impact his hearers. It is not essentially about those who hear the message and their response to it. In the final analysis, preaching is about bringing glory to God.
The prophet Jeremiah was commanded to speak to the stubborn Israelites about then sinfulness, but God declared before Jeremiah spoke that they would not listen to his message, “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they
will not answer you” (Jer. 7:27). In declaring the Word of the Lord, Jeremiah was also declaring the righteous judgments of God not only to Israel but also to all the watching nations. The same thing is echoed in the words of the prophet Ezekiel, through whom God spoke saying, “But you shall
speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious” (Ezek. 2:7). The positive side of this call to faithfulness, is that when people hear of the mercy and forgiveness that has been purchased for them and they believe, then the name of the Lord is glorified (Acts 13:48-49).
Because expositional preaching allows the Word of God to speak rather than mixing God’s voice with other voices, it is God who is most clearly revealed in this type of preaching, and it is He who receives all the glory for His Word.
It Feeds the Soul
Jesus said it best when He declared, “It is written, MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.” Peter was instructed to make sure that he tended the Lord’s sheep in an appropriate manner that was reflective of the Good Shepherd (John 21:15-17), and that must include the regular diet of the Word of God.
Psalm 63 speaks of the hungering and thirsting for the Lord. This cannot be satisfied by emotional hype and other cheap substitutes. The satisfaction of the hungering soul can only be found in encountering God through the pages of Scriptures. It is also from this feeding of the soul through the preaching of the Word that Christians are able to grow up in their salvation (lPet 2:2). Of course, as the believer grows up in the faith, then it becomes his responsibility- to begin feeding himself (Heb. 5:12-13) along with the regular intake of the Word of God in preaching.
It Educates the Church
As a pastor feeds the sheep in his congregation on a steady diet of the Word expositionally preached, he will be developing in them a reverence for the Word as well as giving them a deepening understanding of how the Scriptures as a whole speak God’s message to them. In this day that we live in, our society is biblically illiterate. Some of this is because of our culture’s movement away from the biblical principles that were the
norm for society. But some of the blame must be laid upon the church for abandoning the expositional preaching of the Word of God for topical, thematic, biographical, social, moralistic and pragmatic messages that divorced the Word from its original message and intent.
The mission left by Christ, given to Paul and passed down to Timothy still applies to the church today, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). It is therefore part of the expository preacher’s call to make sure that he is not just filling up forty-five minutes of time with lofty words, but that his message touches both the mind and the heart so as to produce faithful and knowledgeable disciples who are equipped to make other disciples themselves.
It Teaches Hermeneutics By Modeling
Part of the educational process of preaching is left unspoken but is a reality nonetheless. Expositional preaching (as all other types of preaching) eventually teaches the congregation how to study the Bible for itself. As the preacher proclaims the message, the listeners are discerning the process that he went through to derive such an interpretation. Shoddy preparation, eisogesis and shallow exegesis all proclaim to the church that the Word of God is not something to be taken seriously.
Because of this reality, the expository preacher must seek not only to be sure that he is fully prepared when he steps into the pulpit, but he must also seek to weave into his message explanations as to how he arrived at his conclusions and why he rejected others. Although he must be sure that he does not drown his listeners with confusing jargon and linguistics that they cannot understand, he must be prepared to teach them how they can delve deeper in their own personal studies. This will not only enrich their own lives, but it will also enrich the lives of those who are taught by them as well as further producing leaders and teachers who can equip others as well.